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Kyle Kirkwood’s Victory at the 2023 Long Beach Grand Prix: A Game-Changer

It has been a transformative year for Kyle Kirkwood.

“After achieving victory in IndyCar, especially at Long Beach, which is one of our premier races, it holds significant importance,” Kirkwood expressed. “This win has had a profound impact on my career and my presence in the sport.”

Securing the win at Long Beach marked Kirkwood’s inaugural checkered flag in the NTT IndyCar Series, silencing critics following a lackluster debut in 2022 after clinching the 2021 Indy Lights championship.

Having triumphed in every championship leading up to this point, Kirkwood reflected on his challenging start in IndyCar in 2022. He stated, “Having dominated in previous championships and races, transitioning to IndyCar in 2022 and struggling to even break into the Top 10 was a tough pill to swallow. It truly underscores the intense level of competition in this series.”

Returning to Long Beach, Kirkwood aims to achieve a rare feat by becoming the first to win consecutive IndyCar Series races on the 1.968-mile road course since [ppp1].

Long Beach’s Endearing Qualities

During his victory celebration last year, Kirkwood received a surprising revelation from team owner Michael Andretti, who informed him that his first win coincided with Andretti’s own victory at Long Beach.

“I was unaware of that fact until he mentioned it,” Kirkwood admitted. “It’s a piece of information I should have known, and I found it incredibly fascinating.”

Maintaining his composure, Kirkwood led for 53 laps and crossed the finish line almost a second ahead of his Andretti Autosport teammate Romain Grosjean.

The triumph solidified Kirkwood’s enduring admiration for the illustrious Southern California motorsports event, which commenced in 1975 and stands as the longest-running major street race in North America.

“It’s an event steeped in history on multiple fronts, and the experience of driving down Shoreline Drive and being part of that longstanding tradition is truly remarkable,” Kirkwood shared. “I relish the opportunity to return here.”

Moreover, the consistently pleasant race day weather, with a forecast of 75-degree temperatures and a mix of sun and clouds, adds to the event’s allure.

“The weather here is consistently ideal,” Kirkwood remarked. “Unlike other venues with unpredictable and changing weather conditions, here you generally know what to expect – sunny skies, gentle breezes, and cool, crisp weather that suits Indy cars perfectly. It’s fantastic.”

IndyCar driver Kyle Kirkwood, pictured with a race fan, secured his inaugural career pole position for the 48th Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 15, 2023.

Embraced as Family

Hailing from South Florida, Kirkwood never envisioned driving for Andretti Global Autosport or being embraced as a valued member of the team’s extended family.

“The camaraderie within the entire Andretti family and organization is truly special; Mario’s ubiquitous presence and genuine demeanor make him one of the most amiable personalities in the IndyCar paddock,” Kirkwood reflected. “Being part of their family is a remarkable experience.”

Last June, Kirkwood and Andretti announced the 27-year-old driver’s return to replace the departing Rossi for the current season. Kirkwood now embarks on his third season as one of three drivers in the Andretti IndyCar stable.

“The opportunity to join Andretti Global Autosport was beyond my wildest dreams, especially considering my karting beginnings at the age of 5,” Kirkwood shared. “It’s been an incredibly surreal journey.”

Demonstrating his worth with two victories last season – first at Long Beach and later at the Music City Grand Prix – Kirkwood acknowledged the immense effort invested by the team.

“The sheer scale of the organization and the dedication of the team members are awe-inspiring; despite fielding only three IndyCars, the operation is massive, with 70 to 80 individuals tirelessly working at the shop daily,” Kirkwood noted. “It was a truly eye-opening experience for me.”

Reflecting on the organization’s impressive trophy collection displayed at Andretti Global, Kirkwood highlighted the high standards set for his career trajectory.

“Upon seeing the multitude of trophies adorning the lobby at Andretti Global, I realized the magnitude of the accomplishments and the work ahead of me to catch up,” Kirkwood remarked. “The win at Long Beach last year significantly impacted my career trajectory and future prospects. It’s incredible how a single victory can shape your journey.”